On March 12, 1938, the Third Reich annexed Austria in what became known as the Anschluss. Although many Austrians celebrated their inclusion in "Greater Germany," the annexation posed a great threat to the country's Jews.1 Those Jews living in Vienna,2 where they represented roughly 10 percent of the population, were among the first to face increased persecution under the new regime.
Once incorporated into Germany, Austria adopted Nazi anti-Jewish legislation. One of the first measures introduced was a boycott of Jewish businesses. Produced in March of 1938, the film footage showcased here documents the boycott in effect on Vienna's city streets. Captured by Ross A. Baker, a visiting American chemistry professor at the University of Vienna, the video clip shows several tagged Jewish shops with the words JUDE and Nicht arisches Geschäft.3
Baker's film also captures the behaviors of bystanders: locals are seen continuing with their daily business, shopping and talking to one another, while others stop to examine the graffiti. Some people who walk by the shops undisturbed, others attempt to clean the windows, and still others stop to peer into the shops. In the final sequence, Baker's wife, Helen, walks up and looks in the window, then attempts to enter the store. A Nazi stormtrooper stops her, and the two speak briefly. Two other women watch as she is turned away from the store.
Although many individual citizens defied the boycotts and continued to shop at Jewish enterprises, the loss of business inflicted significant financial hardship on Jewish business owners, forcing many to close their shops. By 1939, Jewish businesses and properties were confiscated by the Nazis. The deportation of Vienna's Jewish community began in October 1941.